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Nov. 12, 2008

Researchers study globalization’s local impacts with NSF grant

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A $1 million National Science Foundation grant is helping MSU researchers study the effects of development on remote communities.


Researchers will conduct a five-year study of “globalization from the perspective of households,” said principal investigator Dan Kramer, an assistant professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and James Madison College.


Other studies have focused on globalization’s effects on nations or regions, and have ignored the “really complex set of drivers” that cause changes in households, Kramer said. The MSU study will more closely examine factors like market access, technological change and migration between communities.


The study focuses on a group of villages on the Caribbean Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua. Kramer said that before a road linking one of them to the capital, Managua, was completed in 2007, it took a charter flight followed by a long boat ride to reach any of the villages. The group will study the road’s effects on household resource use, farming and fishing, through comparisons to baseline data collected before the road was built.


Kramer said the group has already observed changes in the villagers’ attitudes about development. When news initially spread that a Japanese aid agency had put up money for building the road, the majority of villagers were “very, very excited,” he said. But more recently, “there was more negative feeling, as they saw things they hadn’t anticipated,” like damage to the road from heavy trucks and an influx of vendors selling their wares on the roadside. Cell phone towers have even begun popping up in the area.


Also working on the project are Andrea Allen, anthropology; Aaron McCright, Lyman Briggs College and sociology; Jiaguo Qi, geography; and Gerald Urquhart, Lyman Briggs College.


For more of the story, click to www.espp.msu.edu/news/news/20081023_nsfgrant.html. For more on the project, visit www.globalchange.msu.edu/nicaragua.




Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.

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